Date of Defense:
January 21, 2010
Objectives: This paper looks at day care services for families who have children with chronic conditions. It describes the reasons for the parents’ decisions to utilize day care or not and also explains the potential benefits day care can have for the children and families.
Methods: Data were collected from 166 families who participated in Project Resilience, a study designed to look at the multiple factors in the social environment that affect the competence and functioning of children with chronic conditions. Several survey instruments were used to collect a variety of data from different areas of the children’s environment. For the purpose of this paper, questions related to how families used day care services were explored. For families who chose to use day care, the type of care, frequency and satisfaction were described as well as the impact it had on the families. For families who chose not use to use day care, reasons for their decisions and how it may have affected their families were described.
Results: More families in the study chose not to use day care (62%) than those who did (37%). The primary reason found was that mothers stayed home to care for their children (35%). Other reasons included issues related to their children’s illnesses, not needing care, having personal care attendants, family members or others to help with care, having no other options available, and cost. Some families (34%) indicated that it would make a difference if good day care were available for them. Among families who did use day care, in-home day care (48%) and day care centers (21%) were the most common types of care used. Forty-eight percent used day care part-time and 45% used it full-time. The majority of families were satisfied with the care their children received with 52% reporting it as excellent and 35% reporting it as good.
Conclusions: Results from this paper show that having quality day care available for children with chronic conditions can be beneficial for children and their families as a whole. Benefits include opportunities for positive social interactions and providing respite for families. Further areas to explore in day care utilization include maternal employment, family income, and adequate training for providers.